Trial rescheduled for Charles Pickett Jr. in fatal bicycle crash: Charles Pickett Jr. appears in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court for a motion hearing Thursday, March 16, 2017. Pickett’s trial is expected to begin April 25 in Judge Paul J. Bridenstine’s courtroom. Pickett faces five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, five counts of second-degree murder and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury in the June 7, 2016 crash. He could face up to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. (Mark Bugnaski/MLive.com) (Mark Bugnaski)People in the courtroom watch as Charles Pickett Jr. appears in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court for a motion hearing Thursday, March 16, 2017, Judge Paul J. Bridenstine’s courtroom. (Mark Bugnaski/MLive.com)CLOSEMore share options:By Emily Monacelli | firstname.lastname@example.org CLOSEFollow on TwitterKALAMAZOO, MI — The trial has been rescheduled for Charles Pickett Jr., a Battle Creek man accused of driving drugged and plowing into a group of bicyclists in Kalamazoo County, killing five and injuring four.Pickett’s trial is expected to start with jury selection Sept. 18 and opening statements Sept. 19 in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Paul J. Bridenstine’s courtroom, according to court documents. His trial had been scheduled for jury selection on April 24 and opening statements April 25.A settlement conference is scheduled for Sept. 15.Pickett’s defense attorney Alan Koenig in March filed a notice to use the insanity defense in Pickett’s case. He has been ordered to undergo an evaluation for criminal responsibility at the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti, which has caused a delay in the case.Pickett, 50, faces five counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, five counts of second-degree murder and four counts of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury in the June 7, 2016 crash on North Westnedge Avenue in Cooper Township. He could face up to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.Several witnesses testified at Pickett’s preliminary examination in November they saw Pickett driving erratically, and a Kalamazoo Township police officer who was at the scene said he was “completely out of it” after the crash, was slurring words and seemed under the influence of something.Police say Pickett crashed his pickup truck into the nine bicyclists who were out for ride as part of the “Chain Gang” bicycle group. Pickett’s girlfriend told police he downed handfuls of pain pills and muscle relaxers before getting behind the wheel. Several witnesses testified at Pickett’s November preliminary examination they saw him driving erratically before the crash.Pickett was found competent to stand trial in August 2016 and ordered to stand trial in November.Meanwhile, Bridenstine also will decide whether a previous DUI arrest of Pickett can be used as evidence at trial. He was arrested for operating under the influence in Rhea County, Tenn., in February 2011, but the charges were later dropped.Killed in the crash north of Kalamazoo were: Debra Ann Bradley , 53, of Augusta; Melissa Ann Fevig Hughes , 42, of Kalamazoo; Fred Anton “Tony” Nelson , 73, of Kalamazoo; Lorenz John “Larry” Paulik , 74, of Kalamazoo and Suzanne Joan Sippel , 56, of Augusta.The four seriously injured were Paul Douglas Gobble, 47 of Richland, Sheila Diane Jeske, 53, of Richland, Jennifer Lynn Johnson, 40 of Kalamazoo and Paul Lewis Runnels, 65, of Richland.
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